Archaeologists in Østfold County, southeastern Norway are hailing what they have called the “sensational” discovery of a Viking longship which they detected using ground-penetrating radar technology.
As Fox News reports, researchers working at the Norwegian Institute for Cultural Heritage Research (NIKU) were able to successfully employ high-resolution georadar on a burial mound in which they discovered the enormous 66-foot Viking longship. As it turns out, this ship is relatively close to the surface of the mound at just 1.6 feet beneath the top layer of its soil.
According to NIKU, “The data indicate that the lower part of the ship is still preserved,” and the team also added that they believe the timbers of its floor and its keel must be in good condition as these are still visible.
Dr. Knut Paasche, who heads digital archaeology at NIKU, explained that the discovery of the Viking longship in Norway is “incredibly exciting,” especially as there have only been three so far that have been found in the country that can be counted as truly well-preserved.
In terms of this longship’s preservation, Morten Hanisch, who is a county conservator in Østfold, noted that archaeologists can’t be completely certain about the ship’s condition until they investigate further.
“We are certain that there is a ship there, but how much is preserved is hard to say before further investigation.”
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Near the burial mound where the Viking longship was detected, archaeologists have also discovered eight completely new burial mounds that had never been spotted before, along with five longhouses, which have been said to be “remarkably large.” These longhouses served different functions for Vikings and would have housed families while also putting a roof over the heads of cattle.
Because the Viking ship was found immediately around the longhouses and burial mounds, it is important to keep in mind that the longship’s burial at the cemetery would probably have helped to illustrate how powerful and special this region would have been. Or, as NIKU project leader Lars Gustavsen put it, “The ship-burial does not exist in isolation.”
The next step for archaeologists involved with this Viking longship will be to create a digital map of the burial mound and even after that it is still quite likely that the ship may have to be excavated at some point in the future so that archaeologists can see just how much of it is left and gather other details that would be quite impossible without thorough physical examination.